Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rocket Science

In Computer Sweden, 12/11/2006, there is an article on how badly it works to sync your cell phone with Exchange. Déjà vu!

Like most people in the IT business I have owned a number of handheld computers, in my case, from the not unknown brand Palm. I still use my Palm in spite of the fact that the synchronization with Outlook has never worked well. Initially Palm lacked a sync program to Outlook, and one was obliged to use third party plug-ins. No matter what Palm model or sync program, there has constantly been trouble with lost items and duplicates. Recently I even bought a program that removes duplicates from Outlook. In short, I want to use my handheld computer and I’m not ready to give up just yet!

- Synchronization? It’s all about copying a bit of contact info to this location and a few appointments for meetings to that location, really easy stuff! We’re not going to waste much energy on such a tiddly thing.

Is this what the reasoning has been like over the years, at Palm, SonyEricsson and other successful companies? When CS last rang around, it looks as if the problem continues to be made light of.

In survey after survey it has become apparent that mail is the killer app of the mobile Internet. Year after year we see that using mail via the cell phone does not work. The technical challenge for mobile mail is the same as for other types of synchronization. It doesn’t matter whether you use a cell phone net or cable, nor whether you sync only mail or mail + contacts + calendar.

The companies behind handheld computers have not solved the problem. The cell phone companies have not solved the problem. Third party suppliers have not solved the problem. You would have thought that the cell phone operators might realize this and set about doing something about it themselves. I also have a suspicion that a large number of software developers don’t take some of their tasks seriously.

Maybe Microsoft have managed to sort it out now with later versions of Exchange and Windows Mobile. However, I’m not prepared to buy a pig in a poke, but no shop is willing to let me borrow a HTC TyTN for a trial run before I spend quite a bit of money.

When it comes to Symbian, Gartner’s analyst says: "Within a week or so, these problems should be resolved”. Yeah right! After so many years of problems, we’re supposed to be only a few weeks away from the solution?! (Is there ever any follow-up on the forecasts of the analysis companies?)

My forecast is that this area will carry on offering entrepreneurs fantastic business opportunities for a long time to come. There are, in spite of everything, those who have taken this issue seriously and succeeded, such as BlackBerry.
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